With growing awareness that what we put in and on our bodies affects our health and wellbeing, little is still known about the impact of textiles on the human skin. Athletic wear often uses silver threading to improve hygiene, but little is known about its effect on the body’s largest organ. In this study we investigated the impact of such clothing on the skin’s chemistry and microbiome. Samples were collected from different body sites of a dozen volunteers over the course of twelve weeks. The changes induced by the antibacterial clothing were specific for individuals, but more so defined by gender and body site. Unexpectedly, the microbial biomass on skin increased in the majority of the volunteers when wearing silver threaded t-shirts. Although the most abundant taxa remained unaffected, silver caused an increase in diversity and richness of low-abundant bacteria and a decrease in chemical diversity. Both effects were mainly observed for women. The hallmark of the induced changes was an increase in the abundance of various monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), especially in the upper back. Several microbes-to-metabolites associations were uncovered including Cutibacterium, detected in the upper back area, that was correlated with the distribution of MUFAs; and Anaerococcus spp. found in the underarms, which were associated with a series of different bile acids. Overall these findings point to a notable impact of the silver threaded material on the skin microbiome and chemistry. We observed that relatively subtle changes in the microbiome result in pronounced shifts in molecular composition.
The molecular effect of wearing silver-threaded clothing on the human skin
08 September 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.